by Steven Williams

RFH Students planting seedlingsNot long after being approved to offer a high school equivalency degree, the Rural Family Home (Casa Familiar Rural in Portuguese or CFR) faced a major setback. Due to all too common political maneuvering, the Santarem school district began to withhold teacher salaries. Although the CFR's teachers continued to work for many months without pay, the school eventually had no choice but to suspend classes. This unfortunate hiatus was very disruptive to the school's mission of providing rural youth in the Eixo Forte region of Brazil with a locally relevant, interdisciplinary education to make them less likely to eventually out-migrate to cities. Unable to continue their studies, students may have had to seek opportunities outside of their community. Fortunately, CFR has recently been able to resume classes.

In spite of these daunting operational obstacles, CFR has been able to mobilize the school and neighboring communities with the ongoing artesian well project. With the donations that CFR previously secured, they now only need a remaining $1,600 for the first phase of the project, which includes digging, the required hardware, and professional oversight to ensure that the water system is built correctly.

Although not enough to actually begin construction yet, the approximately $1,200 to CFR that CEN has already raised is empowering the school and community to determine the course of their project. By using this recent donation as seed capital to invest in their own fundraising efforts, they plan to mobilize local community. Their team is currently working on strategies for tapping into Brazilian funding sources and raising the remaining $1,600.

Although we've shifted the primary responsibility for fundraising to CFR, CEN will continue our efforts to raise money for the Well Project by targeting community organizations like the Rotary Club. Overall, however, we will scale back on direct fundraising. This will allow us to focus more time and energy on other initiatives, as well as create incentives for the CFR themselves to take primary responsibility for bringing the project to fruition.

The CFR Well Project is envisioned to be the first step in a comprehensive plan to improve the physical infrastructure of the CFR and to create a sustainable resource for the region. Building a new well will eliminate the challenge of supplying drinking water, which causes staff frustration and burnout; therefore, CFR students will be provided with a higher quality educational experience. Additionally, students will participate in the build itself, and the skills they gain will also serve them in the future as they seek to improve their own lives and their community.

All contributions, of course, are welcome and will speed along the completion of the project. To support efforts to bring clean water to the CFR, which is critical to the school's efforts to build a sustainable resource for the youth of the region, please make a contribution by clicking here. All of us at CEN want to thank you for your continued support in helping us continue our mission in assisting rural communities around the world to become healthy, empowered, and sustainable.